BioWAVE demo unit built and tested onshore (10 photos)


Australian wave and tidal energy company, BioPower Systems (BPS), has completed the construction and onshore testing of a 250kW bioWAVE pilot demonstration unit.

The structure is scheduled for deployment at Port Fairy in the state of Victoria in November.

The data collected from the $21 million project, combined with the experience gained, is expected to help drive down the cost of wave energy, and contribute to further development of the bioWAVE towards commercial production, BioPower said in a press release.

BioWAVE comprises a 26-metre tall oscillating structure that sways back-and-forth beneath the ocean swell, capturing energy from the waves and converting it into electricity fed into the grid via an undersea cable.

The company highlighted that during infrequent extreme wave events, the structure will automatically assume a “safe” position lying flat against the seabed, thus reducing the structural design requirements (and hence cost) while maintaining reliability.

CEO of BioPower Systems, Dr Timothy Finnigan, said: “We look forward to seeing it operating in the Southern Ocean, developing the next generation machine and exploiting the technology around the world.”

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said: “Once successfully installed, it will be the second ARENA supported device to supply wave energy to a major Australian grid, feeding 250 KW into the National Electricity Market.”

The project is supported by an $11 million grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), a $5 million grant from the Victorian Government and $5 million equity from BPS.

Work at the project site near Port Fairy commenced this month. The work involves installation of electrical equipment, including an electrical transformer and meter cabinet, and associated wiring to the point of grid connection.

The 415V/3.3kV transformer was manufactured in Brunswick, Victoria by TMC Pty Ltd, and the meter cabinet was built by Advanced Controls Pty Ltd of Nunawading, Victoria. Detailed design of shore-based electrical works has been completed by Elical Pty Ltd of Narre Warren, VIC and installation is being performed by R & M Menzel Electrical Pty Ltd of Portland, VIC.

The 3.3kV power/communications cable has been placed across the shoreline, extending from the onshore transformer location to nearshore calm water.

Pending suitable weather conditions, the cable will be placed further offshore, to extend across the nearshore reef and then to the designated bioWAVE location 850m from shore.

BioPower Systems Pty Ltd has appointed Professional Diver Services Pty Ltd, of Portland Victoria, to install the subsea cabling.

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Images: BioPower Systems

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